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When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.

With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole’s daughter, who knows more than she’s saying.

The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next.

(Story synopsis from Crooked Lane Hardcover edition; cover image from goodreads.com)

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima was the second of the two books I received from a giveaway I entered in December. (Read more in my post “New Books Thank You.”) Killing Trail, as one could guess from the title, is a mystery novel. Normally I don’t venture in to the mystery genre often (as I also mentioned in my review of And She Was, the other book from the giveaway), however this was a nice break between my reading of nonfiction books and rereading the Harry Potter series. 🙂

I found Killing Trail to be a really good weekend read, but it also had a few things that I did not enjoy so much. Being a dog lover, I really enjoyed the use of the K-9 dog in the story and how the main character, Mattie, was building her relationship with Robo. This allowed the reader to see the growth in their partnership and relationship throughout the novel, instead of jumping into a story with an established partnership. I think Mizushima did an excellent job writing about the work and care that goes into the training and maintenance of a police dog. She also was able to display the challenges and the rewards that Mattie found in working with Robo.

However, parts of Killing Trail certainly read like the first book in a series (because it is). There were many questions that were left unanswered in an intentional way to set the reader up for the next book of the series. These were not questions related to the case, per se, but more to the background story of Mattie. There were certainly hints as to her past and parts of her childhood were explained, but there were some obvious parts that were left out to peak the readers’ interest in Mattie. Also, the audience is left to only speculate as to how much of a role the veterinarian, Cole Walker, will have in future novels and cases. With this being a K-9 novel, my guess would be a lot.

I also thought, looking back at the story, that there were some obvious red herrings when it came to the case. Of course, this is to be expected  in any mystery or suspense novel, but I think in terms of Killing Trail it was more than just the expected literary device. In my opinion, I think these “red herrings” helped to tie in the development of the relationship between Robo and Mattie. As the case progressed and information became apparent, these miscues allowed Mattie to learn how to trust Robo and not to let her own experience cloud her perception of situations.

Overall, I enjoyed Margaret Mizushima’s Killing Trail. I thought it was a well written mystery that I would not have known about it if hadn’t been for the giveaway in December.

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading everyone!